Roy Noble and Nigel Jones have worked together as Community Wardens for over 12 years for Ceredigion County Council. Here’s an insight into their roles and how they deal with pest issues across Ceredigion.
Roy: I took this role on over 12 years ago, having worked in this line of work for many years beforehand.
Nigel: There used to be a team of five of us, including seasonal Wardens covering beaches in summer, with the help of additional contractors in order to carry out our duties but unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints over a period of several years, it’s just the two of us now.
Between the two of us, we cover pest control on farms and domestic properties across the whole of Ceredigion; Roy does all the farm visits whilst I do all the domestic visits. There are still times though where we need to help each other out in dealing with pest issues in schools or homes, or if we have to execute a warrant on an illegal dog breeding establishment or if we have to collect stray dogs.
Pest Control on Farms
Roy: For the necessary standards to be in place for compliance with farm assurance schemes, farms need a plan in place to control pests and keep a record of all inspections. So, my job is to keep the number of rats down. You’ve guessed it, I have seen a lot of rats over the years!
I have over 100 farms on my books. I visit each farm up to eight times a year to ensure that pests such as rats, are kept under control.
One aspect of my role that I love is meeting people; the farmers that I visit are great, they always make me feel welcome and are appreciative of the service given.
Urgent action needed at times
Nigel: If a school or a care home phones with an issue, we always react immediately and aim to deal with the issue as soon as we possibly can. Last year, we had to deal with a swarm of wasps that had followed a large group of children into a classroom. Luckily, we were able to get there swiftly and deal with them before too many children were stung!
Keeping homes in Ceredigion pest-free
Nigel: Whether there’s been a swarm of wasps that have come through someone’s loft and invaded their home or a group of mice have chewed their way through something, everyone is very glad when I turn up; meeting people and helping them with these issues is what I love about my job.
My day always starts at the office in Aberaeron, where I pick up all the paperwork - detailing pest issues that residents of Ceredigion have contacted the Council about, and I organise my time effectively, working out which areas to cover first. Where Roy’s lucky is that he can programme his farm visits to target one area at a time (although he will still have the occasional call-out that he’ll need to deal will immediately); my duties dealing with domestic properties is a lot more unsystematic in nature as to where I’ll be visiting each day.
Nigel: Don’t underestimate a mouse, they may look small, cute and harmless; they’re just as much hassle as the larger pests. Believe it or not, mice cause more damage to properties than any of the other pests that we deal with; they eat more things than just the food in your kitchen! In modern builds, plastic pipes are more often used for water instead of copper pipes; mice can chew straight through these and we see this happening a lot.
Roy: I remember a brand new barn conversion that we both visited once; the owners had gone on holiday for a fortnight, only to come back to find the whole place had been flooded out because mice had chewed through the water pipes. Mice can slip into people’s properties through air vents or just about any gap in the walls that they can squeeze through.
Mice can be an issue all year round but it does tend to get worse during the winter months, when the mice come in from the cold and wet to seek a cosier warmer home inside people’s properties with a nice meal or two as a bonus.
Nigel: Wasps are the one pest that need dealing with the sooner, the better. Wasps start happily building their nests in June and tend to leave people alone over the summer but towards the end of the summer, when the weather cools, look out! It’s a different story then. The wasps will be finished with their nests and have got nothing better to do than to sting you!
If you find a nest but leave it until the end of the summer, it can be a very big issue to deal with.
Roy: And this issue doesn’t stop there - they’ll crawl everywhere to find a suitable place to lie dormant over the winter.
Nigel: By the end of the summer a wasps nest can be huge, I’ve actually seen a nest that was bigger than me before!
Roy: Wasps can start making their nests anywhere around the house, I’ve seen them inside an extractor fan, a tumble drier hose, air vents on the side of attics, inside the attic. They can get in between the joists of the house, in between your ceiling and then they can start coming out into the bedrooms, bathrooms; you name it, they’ll be everywhere – basically any gap in the house where the wasps can travel in and out of, they’ll find it and start building their nest!
They can also be found outside your property, hanging from your eaves. Garden sheds are regular places to find the nests too.
Products and Services
Nigel: People really shouldn’t use the type of pest control products that can be bought over the counter; as the laws have changed over the last 12 months and the strength of some of these products has been halved – they’re simply not as strong as what they used to be and in effect people are actually feeding their pests so they’re exacerbating the problem and this can be very costly.
Ceredigion County Council currently charges the following rates for dealing with the more common types of pests:
• £52 for mice and rats
• £68 for wasps
• £90 for others, for example, fleas, bedbugs and cockroaches.
These charges are inclusive of every aspect of the service given, there’s no hidden additional costs, compared to some private pest control companies, who often add additional costs to their initial call out fee.
Also, a benefit of using our services, instead of a private company, is that if we’re called out to an issue to a property that’s part of a set of terraced or joined-up properties, we would have a closer look at all the properties on that street to try and identify where the issue is originating from. We spend a lot of time trying to make sure that the issue is resolved fully and is not one that’s going to recur immediately; this sometimes includes us looking at the nearby sewers if necessary. We sometimes need to visit a property up to four times, all of which is included in the initial cost.
If you think that you may have a pest issue, don’t let it fester. Contact us through phoning CLIC, the Council’s Customer Services Contact centre on 01545 570 881 or use the online contact form on the Council’s website. Your issue will be logged and directed to us to deal with. Residents are welcome to phone and receive advice for free from the Community Wardens. We always aim to visit residents within 3 days of receiving their call.
Check www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/pest-control/ for more information.